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Is Your Home Up For Grabs?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Last week “the Supreme Court put a big UP FOR GRABS sign on your home.” That’s how the Castle Coalition, a national property rights group, summarized the Court decision that allows the city of New London, Connecticut to take homes and small businesses and give them to other private parties just because more taxes and jobs might be generated.

America’s founders made it clear that such eminent domain powers should only be exercised for a truly public use such as a road or a court house. The majority of the Court now disagrees and says that shopping centers or office buildings are public enough to let government bulldoze your home to the ground.

The American Planning Association hailed the decision and dismissed the harm it will surely cause by stating that “The dangers of eminent domain should be addressed by assuring that it remains a second-best alternative to market exchange as a means of acquiring resources…”

Calling eminent domain a second-best alternative to market exchange is a little like calling armed robbery a second-best alternative to earning an honest living.

What this flawed decision tells us is that we cannot rely on the U.S. courts to protect our homes. Just like Oregonians restored some of our own property rights last year when we passed Measure 37 at the polls, we have to do it ourselves.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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